Cortland’s Loaves and Fishes will serve a restaurant-style meal the week before Thanksgiving for families who may not have the means to buy or cook their own holiday dinner, or for people whose holidays would have been spent alone.
Located at the Grace and Holy Spirit Church in Cortland, the nonprofit is serving free meals from 2 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 19, and will provide take-out orders from 2 to 5 p.m.
“We’ll serve them tableside and we’ll have volunteers as wait staff,” said Loaves and Fishes Executive Director Kim Hill. “If you get yours to-go, it’ll be one container with cold stuff like pie, bread roll and cranberry sauce, and one container with all your hot food in it like the turkey and stuffing.”
The Food Bank of Central New York saw a 186% increase in food distribution between March 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2020, compared to 2019’s numbers, said Lynn Hy, the chief development officer for the food bank. In 2020, the food bank distributed more than 820,000 pounds of food compared to the nearly 288,000 pounds distributed in 2019.
The number of individuals served by the food bank this year appears to be similar to pre-pandemic averages, Hy said, but the agency always sees a spike in November and December.
“We are expecting, definitely, that uptick in people needing assistance during the holidays,” Hy said. “People start having new bills, like an increase in utilities, and while they’re preparing for the holidays their budgets can start even thinner than they are now.”
At Grace and Holy Spirit, guests dining in will need to provide proof of the COVID-19 vaccination status, otherwise they will need to order their dinner to-go. Masks will be required when not seated.
“We’re trying to keep everybody as safe as possible,” Hill said. “Just come and enjoy. Bring yourself, bring your friends, whatever you want to do.”
Reservations for dine-in meals can be made in-person at Grace and Holy Spirit Church on Court Street in Cortland.
The nonprofit is open 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
Jax Service Center on Route 281 in Cortlandville is also donating Thanksgiving meals that weekend — with a goal of more than 300 turkeys paired with bags of bread rolls, canned corn, stuffing, potatoes and brownie mix, according to the business’s Facebook page.
To learn how you can help support the auto repair and dealership’s third annual turkey giveaway, visit Jax Service Center’s Facebook page or call 607- 218-6024.
For several years, Gregg Cuthbert Sr., owner of the Body Shop Tattoo and Piercing on Main Street in Cortland, offered free Thanksgiving dinners at the Salvation Army — but since the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuthbert’s request for the space and kitchen have been denied.
“We just can’t seem to get a location for it,” Cuthbert said.
“They told us it’s because of COVID precautions.”
Cuthbert said if anyone knows of a space to host the event — and a kitchen large enough to cook hundreds of turkeys, hams, potatoes and other Thanksgiving dinner staples — to give him a call at 607-753-0202.
“I’ve been dying to do the event for two years now, I love doing it,” Cuthbert said.